Founder and owner of Kelly’s Beach Hut, Kelly Burner, shares her shop’s evolution from dream to reality.
By Maureen Kingsley
A small, family-managed brick-and-mortar shop selling carefully selected treasures and gifts is a rarity these days. It’s even more so during the time of COVID-19, when small businesses of all kinds, particularly creative ones, are struggling mightily.
Fortunately for El Segundo and its neighboring communities, Kelly’s Beach Hut: Coastal Gifts and Such, a small, beach-themed shop with eye-catching window displays situated on Downtown El Segundo’s Grand Avenue, continues to operate and open its doors to customers, both in person and online.
Kelly’s Beach Hut first existed “as a dream of mine for about seven years,” explains founder and owner Kelly Burner. “It started slowly in 2016, first as a boutique run out of my back house” in El Segundo, she says. “In 2017 I expanded to a kiosk in Manhattan Village mall, and then a year later I occupied a small space in the back of Tyler Surfboards,” formerly located on Grand Avenue in Downtown El Segundo.
In September 2019, Kelly was finally able to move her shop into its own space at 204 West Grand Avenue, where it remains today. “It’s been a journey,” Kelly admits. “But my shop is my happy place. I’ve put in a lot of time and research to make sure Kelly’s Beach Hut has the best quality products and artists.”
Lovingly tended and organized, Kelly’s Beach Hut sells beach-themed home décor and work by local artists and artisans. Next Session jewelry, made by El Segundo resident Jodie Davies from recycled wetsuits and resin, are part of Kelly’s collection, as are art pieces by Dawn Whitney-Hall and Katja Telp, and sea glass jewelry by Kyrra Dean.
Kelly also carries Mud Pie-brand home and kitchen goods, El Segundo-themed products, and handmade BurneD bags by Emma, created from recycled denim by one of Kelly’s five children.
“I carefully select items that match the flow of the shop and complement the coastal theme,” she explains. “Although most of what we offer is coastal, we do offer other items,” Kelly adds. “We stay unique by getting new products in regularly. We don’t want to look stale. On top of that, we provide excellent customer service and make shoppers feel welcome. I’m so proud of the vibe of the store,” Kelly adds.
That vibe is beachy, relaxed, welcoming, and reflective of Kelly’s personality and interests. “I grew up surfing, and I love the ocean,” the South Bay native says. “I’m a beach girl. I’ve always been inspired by the ocean. I take beach walks almost daily.” Not surprisingly, Kelly’s own home is full of coastal décor, she adds. The aesthetic of her boutique is very much her own. (Shown below: items for sale at Kelly’s Beach Hut.)
A resident of El Segundo since 1988, Kelly raised her five children here in town and says her “heart belongs to El Segundo.” Support for her shop from the city, the Chamber of Commerce, and the community “has been tremendous,” she enthuses.
The arrival of the pandemic last March forced Kelly, like so many other small business owners in El Segundo and throughout Los Angeles County, to re-configure and re-imagine new ways of operating. She was forced to close her shop from March to May of 2020, then switched to offering appointment-only shopping. Trying her best to satisfy her customers, Kelly next offered free local delivery with a minimum purchase. “It was tough to be closed so soon after opening,” she admits, “but the appointment-only shopping and free home delivery in the South Bay helped quite a bit.” Eventually she was able to reopen, with face coverings required and hand sanitizer readily available. Currently, her shop is open every day of the week but Monday, and private, after-hour appointments remain available on request.
A Family Affair
Kelly, who studied interior design at El Camino College and business management at Chapman University, is also a proud mother of five grown children. Happily, she says, her family members support her business and contribute their talents however they can. Daughter Emma creates her BurneD bags and sells them in her mom’s store. Daughters Katherine and Erin assist with marketing, and her sons, Ethan and Zach, “move furniture, do heavy lifting, and help with the organization of the shop,” she says. While Kelly’s Beach Hut began as Kelly’s dream and vision, “it has been transformed into a family business,” she says.
Kelly, like all of us, looks eagerly to a time when the coronavirus pandemic is history and life resumes its normality. “I’d like to have [local artist and longtime friend] Dawn offer art workshops here in the shop,” Kelly says of the future. “We had plans to do some really fun events in 2020.” As life opens up again, Kelly says she “looks forward to hosting those live events, like the open house we had a while back with live music and food, in 2021.” (Her husband and his band performed at that open-house event.) In the meantime, she says, she continues to seek out new products to feature in her shop, and she keeps “striving to be the boutique that people love to come to. We’re really feeling that,” she says.
Visit Kelly’s Beach Hut Coastal Gifts and Such in person at 204 W. Grand Ave. in El Segundo or online .
This story appears in the February 2021 issue.